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La vida loca! Wished you were there? We did, so here we are on our big adventure! A year in central America, to make sense of this vida loca...

Bahia Drake: how we splurged half a month´s budget in two days!

COSTA RICA | Monday, 6 October 2008 | Views [3833]

Nice mug shot!

Nice mug shot!

After leaving Boquete and entering Costa Rica via the quiet highland border town of Rio Sereno, our destination was Bahia Drake (Drake´s Bay). Francis Drake left a mark there too. This scenic bay sits on the edge of the Corcovado national park and is classed as one of the natural highlights of Costa Rica.
From San Vito (on the Costa Rican side) it was a long wait for the bus and then a tortuous 2 hour ride on hair pin bends in the dark, before we made an overnight stop in Ciudad Neily. I´m used to feeling motion sickness and put my head down almost immediately. Dan who usually has a cast iron stomach didn´t and was completely disoriented by the time we arrived.

Both tired and a bit wobbly on our legs, we were then diddled by the taxi driver who took us the long way around to our hostelry for the night! The following Sunday morning we caught a bus at 9.00am for the 24 miles to Palmar Norte before changing onto another bus for the last 4 miles to the village of Sierpe. We would then catch a boat from Sierpe to Drake.

More transport, Costa Rican style...

Or at least that was the plan.  We arrived at 11.40 am and missed the daily ´colectivo´ boat by 10 minutes.  A colectivo bus or boat collects everyone, still not cheap the boat costs $15 one way.  On the other hand, private taxi boat would cost more than $150!  Not surprisingly, we decided to spend the night in Sierpe and catch the next boat out. It was quite a good thing that happened because at about the same time we realized that we didn´t have quite enough cash to stay in Drake and do a tour!  It´s a cash economy in most places in Central America.  There were no ATMs in Sierpe either… and we learned that most hostels were closed at this time of year.

This is where the internet comes into its own.  We googled Bahia Drake and managed to find a place called Pirate´s Cove that (a) was open and (b) took visa.  The only snag was the price, but what the heck!  For two nights it would be worth it.  Dan ´phoned and made the reservation.(Daniel Ed: staying in Sierpe wasn´t bad - we saw six fantastic Scarlet Macaws eating in trees just above us).

Dan looking damp at Pirate´s Cove

Next morning we were ready bright and early and determined not to miss the boat!  Only the rain came down too, but it was a fantastic boat ride down the river and then into swells as we passed into the bay and around the headland to Drake (Daniel edit:- what with the rain lashing my face, waves crashing against rocky headlands framed by mist covered forests, and going to Pirate Cove in Drake´s Bay, you can understand that the urge for me to shout ´Arrrrr, me hearties!´ was almost unbearable) . We got soaked through to the skin, but hot showers awaited us.  After a hot shower, lunch was served: mushroom stuffed pancakes and salad! Delicious. There were just 5 other guests staying at the hotel and we met them as they came back soaking wet from their boat trip to the national park.

There are roads to Drake, but boats are faster and more reliable because the rains cause so much damage. There are also several small rivers that are impossible to cross when water levels rise.  If you arrive by car you risk being stranded.  Anyway, our dilemma now was whether to go walking further down the coast from Drake or to go snorkelling off the Isla de Caño.  I prefer water any day, but the decision was made easier because the rest of the hotel guests planned on snorkelling the next day!

Another day and the sea was still choppy. The swells left us feeling not so swell on the hour crossing to Caño Island. Out of 7 people, 4 were sick over the edge of the boat and 3 still standing! I amazed myself by holding onto the contents of my stomach and once in the water I was OK.  Dan wasn´t so fortunate and lost breakfast and, later, lunch… 

Dan wet and happier in the water.

What an experience.  Our guide lead us with the current along the island´s coast.  We were in fairly deep water (maybe 10 metres), but visibility was good. With our fins it was easy to keep up and to dive to investigate!  We saw two white tipped sharks, a pacific barracuda and loads of other fish – though less coral than we expected.

A shoal of wide-eyed jacks.

We didn´t really see the jellyfish, but they saw us.  Stings to face, arms and legs were less pleasant and some of our party had to leave the water because their skin reacted badly.  After lunch on the beach, accompanied by hermit crabs,  I tested my waterproof camera bag in the shallows. Then Dan, myself and fellow guest Jordie (from Barcelona) were the only three to take the plunge again. I had a go at taking pictures under water, it´s harder than it looks! And the camera survived…

It´s official: hermit crabs are cute!

Finally, on our bumpy trip back to Pirate´s Cove we saw two humpbacked whales!  It was the perfect end to a day full of ups and downs!

Tags: bahia drake, feeling great, feeling ill, isla del cano, seeing whales, snorkelling, splurging


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Argh!  Well, maybe not pirates this time, but dig the colour-coordinated bandanas!

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